The Best Comics You’ve Never Read – Jessica Jones: Alias


In The Best Comics You’ve Never Read, we will be reviewing newer books that may not have the following that the talent going into the book would suggest, along with existing books that managed to fly a bit too low under the radar. Some will be works you can pick up issue by issue at your local comic shop, while others may be collections you can scoop up and enjoy right away. The only connecting threads will be that they are comics, and that they are very good.

Jessica Jones: Alias
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Michael Gaydos

You’re probably now familiar with the character Jessica Jones through her amazing Netflix show (if you haven’t had a chance to check out our reviews, you can find them here), or in her less frequent appearances as part of the proper Marvel Universe, but before she made it to Hollywood or to the comics that couldn’t manage to hold onto the magic of the character, she appeared in her own book entitled Alias. Born under the more adult Marvel Max imprint, Bendis was allowed to take the Marvel Universe to more realistic places than it normally allows itself to go.

So what makes Alias a great read? From the very beginning, we get a series that sets the tone for how it wishes to play out, and despite having both dramatic and comedic moments, it never wavers from that tone. Our first sight is the door of the detective agency, quickly followed by Jessica Jones having a cigarette and a man illuminated as if the only source of light in her office were the one swinging light bulb used to illuminate the entire Sin City universe. In the very first pages, we are both Jessica Jones, taking in this seedier side of the Marvel universe we may not quite be ready for, and the client who hired her, who learns the violent lesson that Jessica Jones is home here.

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As we move on through the story, Gaydos shows us exactly what we need to see. He is an artist who manages to tell more of a story with facial expressions than a good deal of his contemporaries. He also has an amazing ability to create story in eye flow. In one early scene, he flashes between a lot of small panels, and we instantly know that we are seeing the world through the eyes of a skilled detective, taking in the details around her. In other instances, he lets us linger under the weight of events.

And while Gaydos’ work makes the book shine, the reason it appears on this list is because of the story and dialogue of Brian Michael Bendis. He has the ability to write dialogue in a way that naturally flows between people. Characters have lives outside of information dumps. Sometimes they make bad choices. Sometimes they misspeak. In Alias, we get to hear the way Jessica works through the details in the untrustworthy world around her. We can hear the manic way her mind tears things apart when they aren’t quite right. We can hear the edge in her words that both protects her and brings her issues. At one point, we see his ability to create tension shine like a beacon when Jessica has an exchange with a police officer that is ten times more exciting than about any superhero battle you can pull off the shelves this month.

Next: Jessica Jones: Why Jeri Hogarth Might Be Key to The Defenders

It is the combination of their skills that was needed to create a character like Jessica. She is an unrepentant ex-superhero with much more of a backstory than these early issues are ready to tell us about. She is a detective who is as brilliant and as self destructive as any of her readers might be, and in Alias she can be as funny, as smart and as real as you can dare to read.